When I was in Riga spring and winter were competing. There were sunny days where the snow started melting and the streets were covered in a mixture of snow and big puddles of brown water. Winter didn’t give in and just added some new snow and a fresh wind that went through all your clothes. Riga was still pretty though, no matter what the weather was.
I wrapped myself in some warm clothes and set off to explore the museums. Firstly I went to a church where you can climb the tower for a view over the city. Inside, an old lady told me exactly which ticket I needed and directed me up the stairs. On the second floor was an old, no ancient, elevator. The doors opened showing another old lady, reading a magazine on a small stool next to a small heater. With a big jolt the elevator started to move. I couldn’t help but wonder if this was ever checked for safety. The church was old and that’s exactly how it looked up on the viewing platform. The wind slapped me in the face as I stepped outside. The view was worth it though, but I didn’t last very long. I took my photos and pressed a bell. The doors of the elevator opened and the same lady took me down again. I remembered the word for thanks you, paldies, and left with a leaflet about the church.
The next church had a museum attached. The church was big, with pretty, colorful windows. The museum was in the cloisters. There was a long gallery and a courtyard. It was so quiet, nobody else was there. The gallery housed a collection of random things. They were displayed on the floor, sometimes with a sign providing explanation. The wind was still going strong and I felt like I had entered a horror scene. 1. The weather was appropriate. 2. Girl traveling alone. 3. She doesn’t know the place. 4. In an old, shabby looking building which is in desperate need of some maintenance. 5. She is all alone in the space. Nobody would know if I didn’t get back into the church.
I tried to shake off the thought and looked at the old canons. The silence made me wonder if I was even supposed to be here. I saw some beheaded statues and an old rooster that had once been on top of the church. It always looks tiny when you see it on the top, but the thing was huge. This one was retired and replaced by a younger rooster. I guess this was its final resting place, alongside beheaded statues.
The occupation museum showed me some of Latvia’s history. It had been occupied by the Russians until Hitler came. Everyone thought this meant improvements, but all they got was a different bad regime. In Latvia you weren’t save as a Jew either. When Hitler left, the Russians took over again. Groups of people were taken in the middle of the night and sent off to small Russian settlements in the north. They were transported by train and threw notes out of the window for their loved ones, but these notes barely ever reached the intended receiver. The Russians ruled until the early 90s. It’s bizar how recent that is. The museum gave me a good impression of the history, but it was tiring because there was a lot to read.
Walking through Riga is like walking in a fairy tale. Visiting Riga’s museums tells you the story behind all the beautiful streets and buildings.